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HVAC systems are so critical in American homes today that almost every home has one. Whether you live in a climate that is hot and humid or cold and dry; the heating, ventilation and air conditioning of your home are essential in maintaining comfortable living conditions for you and your family.
No matter what kind of HVAC system you’re employing to ensure the environment inside your home is pleasant, there are definitely some things you need to consider before making an assessment, either on an old or brand new system. This is especially true if you are a first-time buyer, as you may not be familiar with the basic aspects of HVAC and could end up spending more than you should just because you’re not in the know.
An efficient HVAC set up is important in order to obtain reduced running costs over the long term, and a reliable system is also essential so that you know your system will work when you need it the most, therefore giving you maximum value for money. This article will give the first time homeowner some tips on what to look out for regarding the HVAC system when buying a new home so that you can save time and money.
Repair it or Replace it?
When you first buy a house the odds are that there’s already an HVAC system installed from the previous owners and as long as it still works and is up to date it should be fine for you to keep using with no problems. Although it might be wise to have a HVAC technician or a contractor take a look at it first just to be sure.
Photo by U.S. Navy photo from Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)
In some cases, the system may be in disrepair and not work at all and this is where you may want to think about either repairing it to restore it to working condition or just to replace it and in other words upgrade it by buying a new system altogether.
Repairing the existing system can altogether in the short term be more cost effective for you but if it is an old system, it may end up costing you more in the long run in terms of being less efficient than modern systems by for example not having the ability to modulate humidity, a running thermostat and may just not have much life left.
The option of replacing the system altogether will typically come with a higher initial cost but if it would cost you a third of that just for repairs, then it is totally worth it. Not only will you have an up to date system which will work to full capacity, have air modulation, possibly less running costs and a better user interface but you will also have the peace of mind knowing that your system will last you for a long time before maintenance will be needed.
So when it does come to the question of repair or replace, it does come down to the budget you’ve set aside to purchasing a new home but considering your future costs as well would be much more beneficial for you in the long run.
Check the Warranty
So you didn’t even need to think about repairing or replacing, your new home has a pretty good pre-existing HVAC system that works fine for you and you’ve decided to keep it. But did you check to see how much warranty is left on it?
If an aspect of the system breaks shortly after you move into your new home when it’s out of warranty, it’s going to cause more stress which you probably assumed was behind you once you got through the home buying process. If you end up having more costs that you didn’t expect to have and it brings you back to the question of repair or replace?
Whether you’re sticking with an already installed system or are installing a new, up to date system anyway, make sure that you know the warranty. If the warranty is running out on an older system, it may be worth replacing it anyway so that you know you’ll be covered for the future.
Regular Maintenance Will Be Needed
NAVFAC Hawaii HVAC Specialists – Public Works Week, by NAVFAC on flickr [CC BY 2.0]
In order to get the most life out of your HVAC system, and to ensure that it stays working at its optimal; you’re going to need to have it regularly maintained. What’s ideal is to have it checked at least twice a year by an HVAC professional, usually during spring and fall, to make sure it can perform well when the hot and cold temperatures hit their peaks.
During a routine maintenance check, the technician will have a look at and clean the coils, check fan belts and replace them if necessary, make sure the refrigerant is contained and doesn’t need refilling, lubricate motors, check electrical connections and so on. This is the best way to make sure that your system works all year round and doesn’t break down on you which could cost you more in repairs and part replacements if it happens.
The efficiency of the whole system does depend somewhat on the ductwork in the home and also if you are replacing the system altogether, you’ll want to ensure the new system you install is compatible with the existing ductwork as having the ducts replaced can be quite an expense.
Before you move in check out how old the ductwork is in the house and actually have a look at it to see its configuration and its condition. Are they insulated? Is it a simple Configuration? These qualities really do improve the efficiency of the HVAC system whereas leaks on the other hand drastically decrease it and are to be avoided entirely!
A Few Final Words
The main lesson to be had from this article is that it pays to check the fundamentals of all HVAC systems. The age, the condition, the warranty; are all important for you to get the best idea on how you should proceed.
When you’re buying a new home, most sellers will actually look into all of this beforehand and get it all in working order before putting the property up for sale, but others may not.
However, if you know what to look out for, and what could cost you more in the long run, then you’ll be making a much more informed and sensible decision when purchasing your first home.
Read more: What I learned as a first-time homeowner